Fighting for Justice

Please read my friend Darby’s story below.  It is almost Unbelievable but, it is a TRUE story.   She has encountered thousands of dollars in legal fees and looking at more through no fault of her own.  I have started this Go Fund Me in order to help  this most deserving young lady have the means to fight for JUSTICE! 

I normally try to stay away from posting anything too personal on social media. In fact, this is probably the single most personal thing I will ever share. I've really been struggling with my mental health over the past few weeks. In a way, I feel like getting my story out there might help. And maybe it'll even help someone else. If you didn't know it already, the justice system is messed up.

Growing up, I never really got to travel anywhere, so when I graduated college, I promised myself that I would always at least accomplish this one single goal: I would travel to one new country each year. The first year was Canada, an easy one. This year, I booked a round trip to Amsterdam and was supposed to travel to multiple cities including Brussels, Dunkirk, The Hague, Antwerp, and Ghent. At least, that was the plan.

I flew the first leg of the flight from Charlotte to Atlanta. I was so excited. I called my parents right before boarding to Amsterdam. As soon as I scanned my boarding pass and started down the gate, a Customs Officer asked for my passport (there were four of them around him so I didn't even notice my checked luggage with them). He verified my identity before stating that there was a warrant out for my arrest out of Jasper, AL from 2011. I had never even been to Jasper, AL, didn't even know where that was, and would have been 15 at the time of the warrant. I thought this was some sick joke. It wasn't.

I had traveled internationally four times since 2011 and fly nearly every week for work. I had purchased a gun (meaning that a background check was done and would have had to have come up clean). I even went through the process of being approved for TSA Precheck  (which you don't get approved for with an open warrant obviously). I was beyond confused. Now, literally everyone that knows me knows that I walk the straightest of lines. I thought it was a case of identity theft, especially since the charge was apparently for credit cards, which I had never owned nor used until I was 22.

And so I was dragged off to jail, petrified and traumatized. I spent four days in a jail in Atlanta, without actually seeing the warrant. The things I saw and the stories I heard...

On the fifth day, around 12AM, Jasper, AL came to pick me up. It was then where I had the officer read me the actual warrant for the first time since this nightmare began (not even my lawyer could get a hold of the actual warrant by this point). She read the date of birth, which stated that "I" was born in 1978 (that would put me at 41 years of age). She read the address, which stated that "I" lived in a part of Alabama that I had never been to nor lived at. 

To sum it up, it took my mom and I 10 minutes of googling and paying $10 to the White Pages website to find another individual in the area with a similar name as me who is 41 years old with the address listed on the warrant. I SPENT FIVE DAYS IN JAIL BECAUSE THE POLICE COULDN'T DO THE JOB MY MOM AND I DID WITH 10 MINUTES AND $10.

I already knew the system was messed up, and I've always advocated for criminal justice reform. All of the injustices I've seen has only made my voice louder. If you think it could never happen to you, though, think again. I graduated college with double honors with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, have never even gotten as much as a speeding ticket, and would panic over the slightest "rule-breakings" (not to mention laws)... yet I was still guilty for five days until I proved MYSELF innocent. 

What's even crazier is that my now tarnished record doesn't just go back to squeaky clean again even though the police admitted they were wrong and the family who originally filed the police report interrupted the officers to tell them my physical description was obviously not the perpetrator. Nope! It doesn't even matter that no one can locate the original police report or the original officer who filed it. I have a record until I pay money to file for record expungement. 

I'm lucky every single day though, because I have two amazing parents who would do and have done absolutely anything for me. I have learned that that is a very rare thing to be cherished. I may not have come from money, but I always knew that I was still privileged. I was humbled even more by some of the things I heard and saw. My parents have been there for me from a monetary perspective. They have calmed me down when my anxiety has skyrocketed. They have held me as I've cried over everything I've been through. They've even held me as I've cried over absolutely nothing. They have turned the channel when triggering things come on the tv. They are and will always be my rock.

Probably the worst thing though is that my family and I are out thousands of dollars. We've been told essentially that I won't win any court case or settlement. I've been turned down by multiple lawyers. I'm not giving up though. I'm beyond upset and angry. I just want justice. Why should my family and I lose thousands of dollars because the police couldn't do their job? Where is the justice? The system has failed me, just as it will continue to do over and over again to countless others until people open their eyes


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Shelley Luna 
Trussville, AL
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